In Georgia’s Peach Pundit, ATR’s Jorge Marin and Freedom Works’ Jason Pye discuss the benefits and shortfalls of the new civil asset forfeiture laws passed by the State Assembly. This is some of what he indicates:

The new “smart on crime” approach undertaken by Gov. Deal has been a resounding success. The number of inmates has fallen and crime and repeat offender rates have dipped. The reforms have been good for taxpayers. In 2014, the Georgia Justice Reform Council estimated savings of $264 million over five years.

Civil asset forfeiture laws, although successful in battling drug crimes, provide an overzealous law enforcement which seeks to profit from seized property as much as it can.

The seizing state or local law enforcement agency can keep up to 100 percent of the proceeds, creating a perverse profit motive to use this tool to, essentially, take property without the due process guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. This profit motive also serves as a distraction for law enforcement by encouraging them to be revenue collectors.

Certainly, the battle is far from over. This is just one of many future steps that need to be taken in order to fully restore property rights as underlined by the Fifth Amendment.

Georgia can and should go further by enacting stronger protections for innocent property owners and removing the perverse profit motive often behind seizures. These simple steps will not only restore due process in Georgia, but also promote public safety in its communities by allowing law enforcement and prosecutors to focus on the vitally important task of ensuring public safety against violent criminals.

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